Gummy Smiles 101

A gummy smile is one in which more gingival tissue is visible than is typical when someone smiles. The diagnosis of a gummy smile can be very subjective—some people don’t mind the appearance of their smiles while others with a similar amount of gingival tissue are very self-conscious. Are you concerned about having a gummy smile? Your dentist can help you evaluate your amount of gingival tissue and understand what treatments are available. This information will also help you get a better understanding this common condition.

How are gummy smiles diagnosed?

Your dentist can determine if you have a gummy smile by doing a visual exam. In most cases, a diagnosis is guided by the patient’s own preferences. In most cases, if you feel like you have an excessive amount of gum tissue visible when you are smiling, then your dentist will help you find a treatment that addresses your concern. He or she will also determine if any other conditions, such as gum disease, could be causing your gums to swell, making them look more prominent. When this is to blame, treating the underlying condition may resolve the issue.

What causes gummy smiles?

There are a number of potential causes of gummy smiles. Some of the causes have to do with the way your teeth are positioned in your mouth. Some people with gummy smiles have an overbite, overgrowth of the maxilla, and teeth that haven’t fully erupted. In other cases, the gum tissue may not recede as expected when teeth erupt. In other instances, excessive wear can make teeth appear smaller or the upper lip is too short or moves excessively.

How can gummy smiles be treated?

The right treatment for a gummy smile depends on the underlying cause and the patient’s preferences. The most popular treatments include:

  • Gingivectomy: A procedure in which the gum tissue is contoured, this is often done with a laser.
  • Lip repositioning: A surgical procedure in which a portion of the lip is removed so that the remaining skin can be stitched down lower, covering up more of the gingival tissue.
  • Crown lengthening: A procedure in which a portion of the gum is removed to expose more of the crowns of teeth.
  • Orthodontic treatment: Treatments designed to correct bite problems that contribute to gummy smiles.


Reclaim confidence in your smile with the help of John Carson, DDS. Our dentist Tucson offers extensive cosmetic dental procedures to address a wide range of conditions. To make an appointment, call (520) 514-7203.  


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